UNDATED (AP) -- Two studies are calling into question whether many people with arthritis are needlessly undergoing one of the most common operations in America: arthroscopic knee surgery.
One finds that surgery is no better than medication and physical therapy for relieving the pain and stiffness of moderate or severe arthritis. The other reveals that tears in knee cartilage, which often prompt such surgeries, are very common without causing symptoms.
Experts say the new studies and other evidence show arthroscopic knee surgery still has a place, such as after a recent injury, but shouldn't be done routinely for osteoarthritis.
The studies are published in today's New England Journal of Medicine.
Nearly 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis, a top cause of disability.
About 1 million arthroscopic knee surgeries are done in this country each year.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)